3 Life lessons learned from living with Crohn’s disease

***As featured on Girls Gone Sporty

stomach-problems

ADVOCATING FOR HEALTH & HAPPINESS

As a thirty-one year old woman who has lived almost two thirds of my life with Crohn’s disease (remember when I came out of the bathroom?), I think it’s fair to say I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t cognizant of food choices, aware of bathroom locations, and steered clear of bathroom conversations. Having a disease that’s invisible to others has not always been an easy road, and it’s far from being paved – many aren’t unaware of the trials. Living a life with eyes wide open I have gained a unique perspective on life which has allowed me to learn valuable life lessons.

Hope

I can imagine the day when I will say to someone, “I used to have Crohn’s disease.” Or even better, “Should we count the number of children and lives we saved and enriched since a cure was found five years ago?” For these dreams I have hope. I have hope that one day I won’t wake up with a stomachache, or that my joints won’t ache as much at a marathon or half marathon. I have hope that I won’t have to go up to a race volunteer to tie my shoes, or stop to go to the bathroom during a race for thirty plus minutes. For this hope I keep going, I persevere.

Perseverance

Always having the mindset that I have Crohn’s, but Crohn’s does not have me, has enabled me to soar. I’ve never allowed my illness to sideline me from the game of life. I’ve never viewed GI distress as an excuse not to lace up and hit the pavement. While I might take it slow, begrudgingly listening to my body, I continue to push forward, reaching my goals, and setting the bar higher and higher. Crohn’s disease has pushed me further and farther – I’ve run one full marathon, 23 half marathons, two 10ks, and several challenges, including 13 Going on Crazy, Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, and The Dumbo Double Dare. I run for those who feel they are not well enough to run. I will keep on running until a cure is found.

A life unexpected

Like most little girls, I had dreams, goals, and aspirations about what my life would be when I grew up. Some of these disappeared with the fading naivety of youth, while others are slowly coming to fruition.

One goal that’s stuck with me, though it’s changed over time, is that I always knew I would become an activist – giving my voice to a cause. I never imagined that my cause would include discussing uncomfortable topics, such as bowel movements and gastrointestinal distress, but I’m proud to stand up and raise awareness for this illness. I believe that the more this topic is discussed, the less uncomfortable and embarrassing it will be. I’m proud to be a part of the “Pooper Trooper Movement,” and proud to be a health activist. Regardless of the cause, it’s vital to health and happiness to advocate yourself and encourage others to advocate for themselves as well.

This is me. Living an authentic and real life.

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